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Can you tell us more about your other projects, and how do you balance it all? I also wrote two author biographies for a different series, one on J. Tolkien and one on Orson Scott Card. I do some writing for another educational publisher, Rosen, and I also work on local projects: I wrote a history of engineering and geoscience in Saskatchewan, and this spring I have a book called Historic Walks of Regina and Moose Jaw coming out.

Before that I had four young adult fantasy and science fiction books published by very small—in one case, now entirely non-existent—publishers. Most of the time I confine my acting and singing to local community productions. How do I balance it all? Badly, most of the time.

But somehow it all gets done in the end.

New Aurora Award Storybundle includes my novel Marseguro

What was your reaction to the covers post, and did your impression of it change over time? I thought it was very interesting. Obviously not a scientific poll, since those responding are a the kind of people who read your blog and b the people who respond to polls like this. Next time I may weigh in myself. How tough is a writing career, in your opinion? What are the toughest things about it? So I have to do all these other kinds of writing, and fit the fiction in around them. Lawyers and doctors are good, too. The other tough part about writing? Forcing yourself to actually, you know, type words.

I tend to do all my fiction writing on my PDA or laptop, disconnected from the Net, for that reason. As I mentioned, my first few novels were young adult novels sold to miniscule places. The characters possess substance, emotions, and realistic motivations…. This book is almost impossible to put down. Anyone who wants to read a novel that talks about tough ethical questions and has characters whose lives are in shades of grey will enjoy Marseguro. He stood in the early spring sun, shivering, glaring down the three-hundred-meter-long, fifty-meter-wide stretch of pre-formed bioplast planks.

The pier looked secure, but Chris knew better. Some of that stink came from the salt water. Some of it came from the alcohol-fueled engine of the catamaran-sub SeaSkimmer , idling at the end of the pier. Some of it came from rotting seaweed.

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But some of it, Chris knew, came from the slowly decomposing bioplast itself. To him it always stank of anaerobic decay, the smell of swamps and stagnant ponds. One day—he knew it—one of the pier's massive posts would give way, and the whole structure would collapse, flipping everything and everyone on it into the deep, cold water of New Botany Bay, where they would drown like his father drowned, lost at sea, when he was four. Chris shivered again. He hadn't expected to come down to the pier today, and his white shirt and pants were made of thin cloth designed for comfort in the warm, humid environs of the genesculpting lab's algae room, not for keeping out the wind currently whipping up whitecaps on the bay's blue-green water.

But Dr. Stanless had radioed half an hour ago for someone to come help unload the samples he'd collected from the algae fields off Slick Rock, and the only someone who could be spared had been Chris. He hadn't dared refuse. No one on Marseguro knew his shameful secret except his mother, and she wasn't likely to tell.

He clenched his fists when he thought of her. He'd visited her in the hospital on his way to work that morning. She'd looked so frail, lying in that hospital bed hooked up to the machinery that kept her alive—not at all like the strong woman he remembered from childhood, the woman who had single-handedly raised him after his father's death…and single-handedly made sure he knew the truth that lay behind that "accident.

She'd been conscious this morning, an unusual occurrence since the last stroke. She could speak, after a fashion. Most of what she said made little sense, and usually she hardly seemed to know he was in the room, but this morning had been different. She'd squeezed his hand with astonishing strength for someone at death's door. They're killing me! They'll kill you, too, if they find out…if they know…". Still, you could never be certain the Selkies weren't listening…. They made him go on that boat. The Selkies all came back.

The landlings all died. Chris almost reached out and put his hand over her mouth. These were things they only talked about in their own home, never in public, never where someone else might hear…. Chris had eased his hand away from her and stood up, shaking. He'd had to take half a dozen deep breaths before he felt calm enough to walk out of the hospital, and it took all his strength not to look over his shoulder to see who might be watching him go.

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A very few of us know the truth. A very few of us cling to the Body Purified. But we can never let on…or they'll kill us. Chris looked at the alarmingly narrow ribbon of bioplast stretching from the shore into the bay, and the balefully glittering water all around it. God, I hate this planet. But he couldn't let on, or the secret Selkie cabal his mother had told him really ruled Marseguro would know he had inherited his family's dangerous beliefs, and eliminate him as they had eliminated his father. Maybe they've already decided to.

Maybe this errand is a set-up, carefully arranged to provide an opportunity for another "accident"…. He shook his head. Don't be paranoid. If the Selkies wanted to kill him, he'd simply disappear. Hardly anyone would notice. Even fewer would care. No, the errand was just what it seemed to be. And though he hated his job almost as much as he hated the pier—and the planet—everyone on Marseguro had to work, and if he quit at the genesculpting lab he'd be stuck scaling hulls or filling potholes with a Council make-work crew, doing jobs bots could do better and faster.

Gathering his courage and holding it tight like the teddy bear he'd carried everywhere until his tenth birthday, he set off down the pier. They soared out of the Bay like dolphins, trailing drops of water that flashed silver in the sun. Their broad, bare webbed feet slapped down on the bioplast with the sound of fish being poured from a net. There were at least a dozen, male and female, all adolescents or young adults, all wearing the water resistance-lessening skinsuits the Selkies favored, vibrant reds and purples and greens and yellows personalized with lightning bolts and starships, Earth dolphins and Marseguroite squigglefish, flames and starscapes and abstract designs that made their owners hard to look at.

They surrounded him in a whirlwind of color and he stopped dead. They laughed and chirped in their own language, one landlings could neither understand nor speak, since they lacked the Selkies' modified vocal apparatus and enhanced hearing. His heart pounded in his chest, a caged animal frantically throwing itself against the bars of its prison.

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